"Background and Expectations of an Online Doctoral Cohort: Implications for Program Design and Delivery"
Fahy, Patrick J.
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The Centre for Distance Education (CDE) at Athabasca University began offering its first doctoral program, an EdD in Distance Education, in 2008. Like most programs in higher education, the program was designed to meet "standards" found in most if not all doctoral level degrees. Considerable effort was also expended in designing a curriculum that covered the skills, knowledge, and competencies that one should acquire when studying distance education at the doctoral level. For example, comparisons of the proposed curriculum were made with other similar programs offered abroad and with programs that covered topics related to distance education (eg. educational technology). In addition, while designing the EdD program CDE drew from its fourteen years of experience offering an online Master of Distance Education degree. In this session, the authors will report on a series of surveys undertaken to assist the department in making further adjustments to the program and its courses. The first survey was administered online to all new admissions (N=13) five months prior to program commencement. The second survey was administered in person at a week long, face to face program orientation session. The third survey was administered at the completion of their first course (March 2009). Data collected in the survey included student demographic and other background information, students' perceptions of their skill level using various technologies, students' current professional abilities in distance education, students' expectations of the program, and course evaluation data. Highlights from these results will be presented, along with their major implications for future program change and evaluation.